It's Groundhog Day for everyone, but it's Groundhog Day for the Weeknd. The 25-year-old Ethiopian-Canadian R&B crossover artist, who won last year's Junos for Artist of the Year and R&B / Soul Recording of the Year, received six nominations this year.
Nominees for the 2016 Juno Awards – the 45th-annual – were announced Tuesday morning at the Phoenix Concert Theatre in Toronto. The Weeknd was also announced as a performer for the Juno broadcast, which will take place April 3 in Calgary.
Other high-rolling nominees this year include Drake and Justin Bieber, with five nominations each, and rising teen stars Alessia Cara and Shawn Mendes, who each earned four. Buffy Sainte-Marie, the Canadian musical institution who won last year's Polaris Music Prize, got three nominations, as did City and Colour, Tobias Jesso Jr. and Walk Off the Earth.
And a Canadian even got a nod in conjunction with Adele's massive song Hello – director Xavier Dolan earned a nomination for the song's video.
Juno chief executive Allan Reid was quick to point out that Canada punched above its weight this past year, at one point owning seven of the top 10 spots on the Billboard Hot 100. "Not since the nineties, when we had Alanis and Shania and Sarah and Celine, have we seen artists dominate the charts like this," he said to the crowd.
At a press conference at last year's Junos in Hamilton, the Weeknd, riding the single Often, offered media a prepared statement, suggesting they should "look forward" to his new album. To say that album, August's Beauty Behind the Madness, was a smash hit would be a vast understatement. The Weeknd, born Abel Tesfaye, spent much of the latter half of 2015 atop charts worldwide, with songs Can't Feel My Face and The Hills rarely straying from the upper echelons of the Billboard Hot 100.
The Weeknd's nominations this year include Fan Choice, Single of the Year, Album of the Year, Songwriter of the Year and R&B / Soul Songwriter of the Year.
Joining him on the Juno broadcast this year will be Cara, whose song Here was a breakout hit last year; country artist Dean Brody; Mendes; and 19-time Juno-winner Bryan Adams.
Former CFL Commissioner Mark Cohon, now the chair of the Juno-running Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, remarked on stage that his new gig was similar to his old one. Much like the Grey Cup, he now helps oversee an event where "the country stops to recognize Canadian talent," he said. (Last year, the Globe found that many musicians aren't exactly confident in how much recognition the awards, or at least the broadcast, actually bring.)
Scott Helman and Calgary rapper Transit performed at the nomination press conference. There was a remarkable moment of incidental humour toward the end when, moments after the band Fuck the Facts was nominated for the metal and hard music award, the announcer immediately segued into the nominees for Children's Album of the Year.
Mike "Beard Guy" Taylor, whose band Walk Off the Earth earned three nominations both this year and in 2014 after starting as a YouTube phenomenon, said the Juno recognition has helped legitimize the band.
After a band's first nominations, he says, "you expect that's your moment to either be in or out." But the band's continued nominations "suggest that we've been doing things well enough to exist past that initial stage."
Could he maybe call it a career now? "You could almost use that word."